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Rumsfeld Wants To Quit Iraq
(Sherwood Ross, Middle East Times, August 14, 2006)
It is an "open secret" in Washington US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld "wants to extricate himself from Iraq" but President George W. Bush "remains resolute," thus the US hangs on . . . The result is a military posture in limbo somewhere between aggressiveness and withdrawal that could bog the US down in Iraq for years. Tragically, it opens the door to escalation of the horrific violence which in Baghdad on kills around 50 people daily and wounds many times more. . . . "The retreat to enduring FOBs [forward operating bases] seems like an acknowledgment that counterinsurgency is just too hard," Packer wrote. He quoted Kalev Sepp, a retired Special Forces officer, who stated, "If you really want to reduce your casualties go back to Fort Riley. It's absurd to think that you can protect the population from armed insurgents without putting your men's lives at risk." . . . Concentrating forces at large bases, Sepp added, "is old Army thinking - centralization of resources, of people, of control. Counterinsurgency requires decentralization." . . . Soldiers who rarely, if ever, leave their FOBs are derisively referred to as "fobbits," Packer said, adding he spent two days at 62-square-kilometer (24-square-mile) FOB Speicher, a few kilometers north of Tikrit, "without seeing an Iraqi." ("Fobbits" are a play on the word "Hobbits," a race in J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth fantasy The Hobbit.) . . . Speicher is home to at least 9,000 soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division. It resembles a Midwestern city with "a bus system, a cavernous dining hall that serves four flavors of Baskin-Robbins ice cream, a couple of gyms, and several movie theaters," Packer writes. . . . A State Department official told Packer, "Certain people in the Pentagon want to get out of Iraq at all costs" and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Rumsfeld have battled over how best to protect Iraq's infrastructure. Rumsfeld has rejected assigning soldiers to provide security for the small reconstruction teams US Ambassador Zalmay Khalizad wants to establish in provincial capitals. Rumsfeld prefers to use contractors [mercenaries]. . . . He goes on to say an American withdrawal "would leave behind killings on a larger scale than anything yet seen," a war in which Baghdad and other mixed cities "would be divided up into barricaded sectors, and a civil war in the center of the country might spread into a regional war." . . . A former US administration official told Packer the Iraq war has been characterized by "an intellectual failure at the start ... an implementation failure after that ... and now there's a failure of political will." "I'm afraid we're going to cut," he added. "We're unwilling to make the sacrifice and spend the political capital." [Not to mention the human and financial capital!] . . . The US dilemma was summed up by Baghdad doctor who told Packer, "Not one of the Iraqis believes that you Americans should leave tomorrow," [even if they say otherwise for public consumption.] "They know that we can't have the US Army leaving the country right now, because, excuse me to say, George Bush did a mess, he must clean it." . . . But what if, instead, the Pentagon's "fobbits" are concentrated in the safety of their secure bases outside the big cities to lick their ice cream cones while Iraq burns?
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posted by Lorenzo 7:14 AM
British Ambassador Says Iraq Civil War Underway, Democracy Failed
(CNN, 3 August 2006)
William Patey also predicted the division of Iraq along ethnic lines, in a confidential memo addressed to the Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary, Defense Secretary and senior military leaders. . . . Patey's warning was contained in his final diplomatic cable, leaked to the BBC, before leaving office last week, the BBC reported. . . . "The prospect of a low intensity civil war and a de facto division of Iraq is probably more likely at this stage than a successful and substantial transition to a stable democracy," Patey wrote. . . . "Even the lowered expectation of President Bush for Iraq -- a government that can sustain itself, defend itself and govern itself and is an ally in the war on terror -- must remain in doubt." . . . He warned that preventing the Jaish al Mahdi Shiite militia from developing a state within a state was a key priority in avoiding a "descent into civil war and anarchy." . . . The leak comes amid a fresh wave of violence in Iraq with 12 people killed overnight on Wednesday. Earlier in the day 12 people also died when two bombs exploded inside a soccer stadium. . . . Patey's comments were echoed on Thursday by the top American military commander in the Middle East. . . . Gen. John Abizaid, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he had "rarely seen" the Middle East "so unsettled and so volatile." . . . Asked about the chances that Iraq will slide toward civil war, he said, "I believe that the sectarian violence is as probably bad as I've seen it, in Baghdad in particular, and that if not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move toward civil war." . . . Appearing with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. Peter Pace, chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Abizaid said the "failure to apply coordinated regional and international pressure" to deal with the problems "will further extremism" and could lead to a widening and more perilous conflict.
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posted by Lorenzo 6:15 AM